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Berkeley Alpha USB still relevant?


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Have the new Audio Research DAC 9 and I compared going from my laptop directly to the on board usb card in the DAC 9 vs going through the Alpha USB then out to the dac via AES/EBU and all I can say is there was no way I was taking the Alpha USB back out of the system! :-)


Sounded much more open, 3-dimensional, and more detailed than when going through the usb section in the dac. That said I think it may vary based on how serious the vendor was about including a high quality usb section in the first place. It is an expensive add on but worth it in my setup for sure. Even my wife noticed the difference just walking by one day.



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Not sure why anyone thinks this needs to be "settled"? In my system the Berkeley device made a huge difference mostly I'm guessing because of a poor usb implementation by ARC. If the USB implementation had been really good maybe the differences would not be as noticeable but I feel no need to have my opinions validated by anyone much less a panel of experts. I think the market has "settled" this in fact because there are several companies that make a similar device and people are buying them otherwise they wouldn't be made. Mileage will vary by setup so the only thing that sounds reasonable to me is that we each evaluate the need for such a device on our own and of course share our experiences so others can at least be exposed to the options.



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2 hours ago, navrsale said:

When I am paying 1000s of dollars, yes, I want to settle things. I want to find out the real truth. The same thing as in experimental vs theoretical physics. We need experiments, we need blind tests!

You should by all means conduct your own blind tests and buy whatever sounds best to you! :-)

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  • 1 year later...

Wow ... quite a bit of emotion in this thread since the last time I was here! I’ll add that it definitely depends on your Dac and it’s particular USB implementation as to whether or not the Berkeley or any other converter will make it sound better. Best to listen for yourself with your equipment in your system and decide what works best for you. While in my system the Berkeley made a huge difference over the ARC Dac9 usb input ... on my new EMM Labs DA2 Reference the Berkeley nor any other device could make any improvement on the usb implementation of the Meitner Dac. Same goes for the DCS Dac. Top notch usb. The ARC dac9 used a less than optimal usb card in their Dac thereby leaving the door open for almost any of the aftermarket converters to improve upon. I know they are working on an update for the Dac9 but it’s not available yet. Again ... demo in your system and decide for yourself. Not sure why some are so hell bent on quantifying everything and if they can’t measure it it doesn’t exist. Ever stop to think we may have not figured out every single thing to measure that our ears can detect? So ... sit back, listen and just enjoy and trust what YOU hear. 


Take care!



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